Long time no type! Last week I embarked on an Alaskan cruise with my dad and brother to celebrate my dad’s 60th birthday. To say it was a trip of a lifetime is an understatement. It was my first cruise, so that alone was an experience. Surrounded by mountains and magnificent wildlife, we explored the vast forestry, strolled through quaint fishing towns, and soaked in the culture. As an avid nature lover, I was in my element. I have always pictured Alaska as a winter wonderland – never much considering the summer months. Well, Alaska is gargantuanly green and WILD! Beautifully overgrown. Natural. Actual FRESH air. Enormous trees. Keep reading for stories and drool-worthy photos!
Ketchikan, Alaska: Our first stop. With an average of 13 feet of rain per year; most homes and businesses in Ketchikan are hydroelectric powered. Other than the few residents who are connected to the town-center’s water system, most people have large basins on their property to collect rainwater to supply for bathing, drinking, everything! We explored a bit then mountain biked down the Pipeline Trail, traveling the length of the cedar pipe pictured below — a three mile marvel of engineering. After thoroughly covering ourselves with mud, we dined on local cuisine and shopped Creek Street!
Tongass National Forest: Established by U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt in 1907, Tongass is America’s largest National Forest. It is also the world’s largest temperate rainforest, meaning that the average temperature is cooler compared to tropical rainforests. Spanning approximately 17 million acres and touching 11,000 miles of coastline, this place is a treasure. The trees are humongous with bark thicker than any I have ever seen in New England. The forest floor was blanketed in green moss and a variety of ferns, creating a dominantly green environment. Because of the high water density, some of the moss is not technically moss, but a symbiotic relationship between algae and fungus. Excuse the nerd in me, but THAT IS SO FREAKING COOL!!! Standing amidst the stunning forestry, it was hard not to feel an overwhelming sense of awe.
Cruisin’ the Pacific: Sailing the big blue with my dad and brother (sharing a particularly tiny room), was unforgettable. We hardly had cellphone service at sea, which was a bonus in my opinion. Quality family time fills the soul – so many laughs, jaw-dropping views, and hangovers for the books!
Juneau, Alaska: In Juneau, we took a short ride up the Mount Roberts Tramway. The tram took us up 1,800 feet for spectacular early morning views above the clouds. Surrounded by mountains, we hiked the terrain before returning to the city for some locally brewed beer and shopping. See the top-left photo below for a view of Alaska’s capital!
Reading in Alaska: On the 15th floor of the ship, there was a massive lounge equipped with endless chaise lounge chairs, comfy sofas, and corners to cuddle up in — a readers paradise. With free Starbucks and the horizon in view, my only regret is that I wish I spent more time in this room.
Separate from the lounge, the ship had a LIBRARY!! Of course, I brought plenty of books with me, but it was still the perfect room to escape to for some peace and quiet.
Upper Dewey Lake Trail: Feeling cooped up in that ship, once we ported in Skagway I enthusiastically committed my brother, my dad, and I to a mountainous TREK. What the trail lacks in distance, it makes up for in elevation gain. WHOO my legs were burning! Invigorating! So proud of my dad! Not only did he finish the hike, he was not far behind us twenty-something avid hikers!
Entirely worth the mountainous battle once we reached the destination: an ice-blue glacier lake. Solitude. Serenity. SURREAL. This hike was, bar-none, the highlight of the trip. If you ever find yourself in Skagway, I highly recommend trekking up the Upper Dewey Lake Trail.
Drinking in Alaska: I was on vacation, okay?
Victoria, British Columbia: Our last stop before heading back to Seattle, then eventually home. We ported later in the day, just in time for a beer and a veggie burger. What a beautiful, clean city! Canada, I am impressed. We strolled the streets which were lined with an abundance of lush flowers and watched the sunset. A perfect way to conclude our trip.
Home Sweet Home: While it was an outstanding adventure, filled with glorious nature and quality family time, there is no place like home. I am so happy to be reunited with my pup — just in time to experience the unparalleled charm of New England in the fall.